Meadow Creek Restoration
Meadow Creek, one of the city’s major waterways, underwent a significant stream restoration in 2012. The goals of the restoration are a stable stream system and improved water quality, as well as enhanced aquatic habitat and aesthetic values. The project built on the environmental initiatives being undertaken by the City and other groups throughout the watershed and serves as a demonstration site, providing educational opportunities to citizens and landowners.
Why Did Meadow Creek Need Restoration?
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has listed Meadow Creek and a segment of the Rivanna River downstream as ’impaired waterways’. Impairment in these waters is due in part to excessive sedimentation from stream bank erosion. Restoring Meadow Creek and enhancing and preserving the forested buffer and wetlands along the creek reduces sedimentation and filters stormwater runoff entering Meadow Creek and the Rivanna River.
A study conducted by the City had identified stream bank erosion as the most significant source of sediment in Meadow Creek and its tributaries. Another study conducted by The Nature Conservancy had identified increased sedimentation, due in part to stream bank erosion and the lack of forested buffers in riparian areas, as the greatest threat to streams and rivers in the Rivanna River watershed.
Meadow Creek was one of a number of sites visited in 2006 to identify potential stream restoration opportunities through the Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund (VARTF). The Meadow Creek stream restoration project was submitted to the US Army Corps of Engineers as a proposed stream restoration project, and received approval and funding from the VARTF.
The project was accomplished in collaboration with the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA), which undertook a sanitary sewer interceptor upgrade in the same area. The City, RWSA, and The Nature Conservancy coordinated the two projects to ensure protection of both the stream and the sewer interceptor.
Restoration work involved restoring over 7,000 linear feet of degraded stream; preserving 10 acres of wetlands, over one mile of the Rivanna Trail, and a total of 72 acres of land; and adding over 40 acres of land to the City park system.
The work entailed reducing the steep height of the stream banks, realigning the stream channel, adding meanders and in-stream habitat structures, removing invasive plant species, and planting native plants and trees to enhance the forested buffer along the stream. Extensive data collection, surveying, and modeling was completed to aid in the development of the project design and subsequent construction. Citizen and neighborhood input was solicited throughout the process and played a vital role.
To permanently protect the stream, wetlands, and forested buffer, conservation easements were placed over the project area.